Monthly Archives: August 2009

Two new Xbox Live Arcade games downloaded

Needed a little pick-me-up last Friday evening, so I purchased some Microsoft Space Bucks and downloaded Shadow Complex:


…and Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers:


I’ve had only a limited amount of play-time with both games, but so far they’re not terrible. In fact, Shadow Complex is quite impressive for an Xbox Live Arcade title, doing many a things great. Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is not the MTG I’m used to playing, but now that I lack a group of friends to play with it does a decent job of filling said void. More later as I continue to work through ’em…

IMPRESSIONS: Mini Ninjas demo


I knew very little about Mini Ninjas before I downloaded the demo for Xbox 360, and that’s okay. There didn’t seem to be much that I needed to know. Only this: I am a ninja, and I will probably do ninja-like things. And in that respect, the demo delivered fully.

You start out in a forest, meandering down a linear path until you come to a small village being assaulted by local samurai warriors. Taking control of either three ninjas (Hiro, Suzume, or Futo), you’re tasked with taking out the bad guys and exploring the local landscape.

Hiro is your Average Joe of ninjas, with a special attack move of dashing in and hitting multiple enemies. Suzume is a master of the flute and can use her musical gift to get samurais a-dancing like “Kung-Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas just came on the radio. Lastly, Futo is all muscle, swinging his mallet without speed, but with all his might. I played the majority of the demo as Hiro.

Along the way, you’ll free animals from locked cages, discover ingredients, and search of for hidden Jizo statues. Mini Ninjas seems to balance the collectathon and action/platform parts fairly well. I’ve seen folks on the forums saying you can possess animals, too…but I must’ve missed that during my playthrough.

While the graphics are mediocre (you’d think this was a first generation Wii title), the art style is simply wonderful. The ninjas all have a distinctive look and are cutesy, and the forest level is lush with greens and blues and bouncing animals. Voice acting worked well for those that did some talking. I don’t remember there being much music, but the thump and thwack of your weapon against the skin of your enemies is always a nice sound no matter how it is recorded.

So, fun, colorful, and varied bits of gameplay. The Xbox 360 is severely lacking in great platformers (I’m thinking about the Jak series, the Ratchet and Clank series, and the Sly Cooper series here), but Mini Ninjas might just be what it needs to stand out. Hopefully, it won’t retail for $60, but anything around $30 would be worth picking up.

Level-5 bringing “Fantasy Life” to Nintendo DS


Oh, Level-5. How I love thee.

Seeing as how I grew tired of Animal Crossing: Wild World and am currently meandering through Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times with little care, the prospect of a “city sim” with actual endings sounds simply wonderful. Mix that with an art style that is eeriely close to Mother 3, and I’m in:


Retro goodness for everyone!

JUST BEAT: Assassin’s Creed


Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre(s): Third Person, Action-Adventure
Mode(s): Single player
Rating: M
Time clocked: Not sure exactly, somewhere around 15 hours or so

The Basics
You are Desmond Miles, a bartender kidnapped for his memories. Conversely, you are also Altaïr, an assassin stripped of his rank and forced to earn his place back in the cool club by eliminating a number of targets that are somehow involved in the same plot to obtain a “piece of Eden.” It’s all very mysterious stuff, and you basically just told what you’re told (“Go to sleep, Mr. Miles!”) until you can begin to piece things together for yourself.

The Good
The graphics, namely those of the cities you’ll visit and explore, are simply stunning. The cities and their streets and their rooftops and shadows and little dirt-covered crevices—they all just look absolutely gorgeous. People walk through the street with lifelike fluidity, and the small sounds of chatter or a pot breaking really do add to the world.

Free running is a blast, and it works out well just about 90% of the time. Once the guards knock you down and have you surrounded, there’s really no chance of escaping without doing some good ol’ sword-swinging.

The combat system (at times) is fun. You have a variety of options: take guards out ahead of time with throwing knives, do a low-profile kill with your hidden blade, or duel it out with swords, countering as you go. This, however, is not button-mashing combat, and if one isn’t careful with their timing, they can find themselves getting slaughtered easily. But once you find your rhythm, taking out an entire circle of city guards is both exhilarating and nerve-wrecking.

The Bad
Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed is a lot like the directions for shampoo. Once the game gets going, you are sent to one of the main cities—Jerusalem, Acre, or Damascus. After sneaking inside, Altaïr must find the local assassin bureau where he’ll get his first clues about the mission. After that, there’s some eavesdropping, integrating, and pick-pocketing…once enough of these side missions have been done, Altaïr is then given the option to terminate the latest target. Kill him, and head back to Masyaf for some talking until you are thrust back to another of the Holy Land’s cities. And that’s it.

The Fugly
It’s annoying to have to do the same thing over and over again; it’s even more annoying when the said same thing offers you nothing new. I saved every single citizen being bullied by city guards, and about 50% of them told me they’d run right home and the other 50% said that all the city would know of my good deeds. Neither of these claims really solidified. What would’ve been nice is if my actions led to something. For instance, maybe extra guards get posted in areas where I saved someone, or a single citizen (maybe the saved citizen’s brother?) would help me in a fight or something like that.

Speaking of worthless, there’s the flags. Fun to stumble upon, a pain to fully track down, and they exist only for Achievements-sake. Again, if they did something for Altaïr (like letting him run faster or fall from greater heights) then they’d serve a point. Alas, they do not.

Lastly, there’s the “ending” to talk about…what a disappointment. I was just as dumbfounded as Miles was after seeing that weird vision and writing on his bedroom’s walls. Granted, Altaïr’s storyline came to a sound and understandable conclusion—why couldn’t Miles? After the credits roll, we’re given control again and can wander around his confined cell for clues, but there’s really nothing else there. A shame, as I wasn’t even sure if the game was over at that point, but I guess it was…

The Overall Vibe
Assassin’s Creed is a game that should be played though not entirely to its end. Visiting your first city and running along a stream of rooftops is a sure-fire blast, but once you beginning to see the game as nothing more than the same ol’, same ol’ it loses its charm fast. There are some great moments here, but it takes a bit of grinding to get to them. The “ending” is a complete letdown, nothing more than a lure for those hungry for Assassin’s Creed II.

7 out 10

Fable III has been announced


See the announcement and its details here.

No, you did not leave the kettle on the stove by accident. That sound is my girlish cry of joy at its highest screech–can’t wait to rule Albion! Anyone that does not bow to my dog will be tossed off the nearest parapet!

Did I mention…?

…that I beat Assassin’s Creed recently and was severely disappointed in its “ending”?

…that I checked out the demo for Batman: Arkham Asylum and thought it was okay at best, but the actual combat felt clunky and foreign?

…that I’m a few steps closer to achieving a full gamerscore for LEGO Batman?

…and that I solved my second mystery in Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times and it involved fishing and then fishing and then fishing more?

First Impressions on Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times


So, I’ve had this for a few days now, and though my play-time with Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times has been very limited, I’ve schlepped around the village/school/whatever long enough to express some thoughts on the Animal Crossing: Wild World clone. Now, let’s see…if I want to post my first impressions I have to select…incantation, cranium, and videogame.

Woo, success!

Things I like

  • The variety of life on-screen, from the vibrant mushrooms to the buzzing bugs to wandering classmates.
  • More storage space means more looting from dead bodies.
  • Collecting bugs and fish actually earns money/rewards, much more than AC: WW ever did Making money is a lot easier, which means no more frugal spending, just buy what you want.
  • “The Nutcracker” plays during Mystery Time, which is surprisingly fitting.

Things I hate as deeply as Voldemort hates Harry’s never faulty haircut

  • While having a magic wand that contains many things (shovel, fishing pole, net, watering can) is nice, whenever you switch to a new screen or enter a door you revert back to being empty-handed. This is stupid. And a waste of time as now I have to cycle through the items again just so I can catch a butterfly or cast a spell.
  • You can only take three classes a week. Once they are done, be prepared to be bored. This week I’ve learned the “treasure hunting” and “cloud hammock” spell, the incantation for “love,” and that when you talk to someone their name is added to your list of name-names. I now have to wait until Sunday to learn anything else—it better be worth it.
  • Spells—I already know it’s going to be such a pain later on to have to manually add them every time I want to use them. They should do that upon first usage or maybe set a limit, like after five times manually entering them now you can just select it from a list.
  • What’s the difference between a wig and a hat? (This is not a joke, there is no punchline coming.)
  • Mystery Time is not all that exciting. It’s just a special section where you can collect weird bugs and fish; it is after Mystery Time that is most important because that’s when you go investigating the weekly whodunit.

So yeah, at this point, I’ve only solved the first mystery. I have the generic staff and hat, very little furniture in my room, some Ritch, a couple of lessons under my belt…and that’s it. I kind of have to wait for real-life time to pass just to enjoy some aspects of Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times more. Hopefully, it’s worth it.

All systems engage and–update!


Today’s the day Xbox LIVE gets an update.

Will have to wait until I’m home from the day job to check out how it runs and all that, but so far the Internet is telling me all is good. No Facebook/Twitter integration, rampaging dinosaurs, or XXX porn. That comes in the next updatery. Can’t wait…

I totally am the Keeper of the Creed

Took a small break from my new crack (Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times) last night to run around in Assassin’s Creed. Earned two achievements, one of which was story-based. The other, however, I’m pretty pleased with. See below:

Keeper of the Creed
(10G): Find All Flags in Masyaf.

Hidden throughout the main hubs of the game world are flags. Some are easy to spot, glistening on top of roofs, but the majority are hidden in nooks and behind buildings or down alleys that have to be walked. The flags do nothing; it’s just something to collect. But it calls out to my OCD and therefore all must be gathered. And there were 20 flags to be hidden in Masyaf, and I found them all without the use of a map or guide, which makes me feel pretty darn good. Granted, there were only 20, and some of the other cities have a ton more to find, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

The start of becoming the greatest wizard of all time

Okay, I gave into the crack and thanks to some bonus b-day money I now own a copy of Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times.

And so far, after about forty minutes of play, I’m digging it. Of course, the entire time I’m comparing it to Animal Crossing: Wild World, and so with that MQMT has much sharper graphics, a better menu system, deeper pockets (!!!), and a wider selection of things to do, see, interact with, and collect. I’ve only just started taking classes at my school (properly named Hogwarts) and am still figuring out what exactly I should be focusing on, but yes, so far, it’s pretty much what I wanted.